For most people, downloading and updating applications on their phones is a task that takes place while using WiFi, as the files can sometimes be large and use chunks of their monthly data plans. With a new update method being introduced into the Google Play Store, the size of application updates should be dramatically smaller…
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Announced yesterday on the official Android Developers Blog, the Google Play Store will start using a new method when handling app updates called File-by-File patching. Instead of replacing the entire application that is currently installed on your device and replacing it with the updated copy, the new process being introduced to Google Play will identify the new and or modified files before downloading and installing them.
The author of the blog post, Andrew Hayden, a Software Engineer on Google Play, also went into detail on the patch size of several applications including Netflix, Google TTS, Google Maps, Kindle, Gmail, and Farm Heroes Super Saga to demonstrate just how much data would be saved. In the example, Netflix’s patch was 1.2MB which was a reduction of 92% when compared to updating the entire application. This percentage fluctuates between each application though as the amount of data needing to be moved over is different. On average, Google estimates that the amount of data that will be saved with the new File-by-File patching will be around 65%.
Android applications are packaged as APK files which use a form of data compression to limit the size of the file as well as to keep everything in one place. With File-by-File patching, the Play Store has to decompress the new APK provided by the developer as well as the APK file currently installed on your phone or tablet. Currently, this is the only way to compare the files before moving over the new ones. The entire process can be a lengthy and processor-intensive endeavor so, for now, this new application updating method will only take place in the background when your device is plugged into power and sitting idle.
You can head on over to Github if you’re interested in finding out more about the Archive Patcher.